Did you know that most people will experience at least one eye condition during their lives? With 2.2 billion individuals suffering from vision impairment – and 1 billion of whom whose condition could have been prevented or hasn’t even been treated yet – the topic of eye care should be top of mind for all.
As a way to celebrate and raise awareness about National Save Your Vision Month this March, the Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC) is sharing why you should and how you can take care of your eyesight. It’s our hope that you’ll be encouraged to take action to preserve your sight today through preventative measures and be inspired to help ensure the right to sight for those who lack opportunities to receive vision care.
Why it’s Important to Take Care of Your Eyesight
While most vision impairment occurs in individuals over the age of 50, it affects people of all ages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of OPC’s valued program partners, children who experience severe vision impairment suffer educational challenges. Adults can also experience decreased quality of life, heightened rates of depression, and diminished career engagement.
Vision loss is a global concern – affecting people of every gender, ethnicity, and ability. However, women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and indigenous populations are at a disproportionate risk.
Additionally, the risk for vision impairment is amplified in low- and middle-income countries where inequitable access to eye health care is a sobering reality. Since vision impairment is a global concern, the Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC) works to provide quality, inclusive, and comprehensive eye health care within countries that experience some of the highest rates of health inequity: Francophile Africa.
How to Take Care of Your Eyesight
While our focus in preventing blindness is within Francophile African countries, we care about empowering people worldwide with information that could save their vision. Developing healthy habits to protect your sight could result in a sustained quality of life, longer.
- Schedule annual eye exams with an optometrist: A annual eye exam is just as important as a yearly physical when it comes to prevention. Eye conditions in early stages may not present with symptoms, so it’s critical to get comprehensive exams regularly. When conditions are caught early, individualized treatment plans can be developed to treat or slow progression. Be sure to know your family’s eye history to help your optometrist develop a plan for prevention of any hereditary conditions.
- Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level: Most people know that diabetes can cause blindness – but did you know that 90% of blindness from diabetes is preventable? Working with a physician to develop strategies to maintain healthy blood sugar, A1c, and cholesterol levels and normal blood pressure contributes to your eye health.
- Develop healthy habits (and kick the bad ones): Healthy, sustained habits such as eating a variety of produce (especially dark leafy greens, such as kale or spinach), maintaining a healthy weight, wearing UV blocking sunglasses, and using protective eyewear at work, or during sports and hobbies all contribute to health eyesight. So does washing your hands and following instructions for care of your contact lenses. If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing eye conditions that can lead to blindness, such as cataract, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration.
The Right to Sight
If you or a loved one has ever experienced vision impairment or eye disease, you understand how profoundly it can affect everyday life. Now imagine if you lived in an area that had very little resources or opportunities to treat the condition.
We are on a mission to sustainably provide equitable eye health opportunities to Francophone Africa. OPC works with local governments, civil society organizations and communities to develop comprehensive eye care programs, expand access to eye care services and encourage local ownership of eye health care systems. You can help today by making a tax-deductible donation to help provide these services to those less fortunate.